6 Ways to Radiate Sunbeams

A few years ago now, someone once said behind my back,“I don’t trust Ali because no one can be that happy, all of the time!”

It’s a comment that has always stuck with me.

At first I was insulted. After thinking about, I think it’s bloomin’ wonderful.

I do like to smile. Sometimes the smiles are strained. Sometimes the smiles are forced but there is a quote which I adore and carry in the back of my mind, always:

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My favourite childhood author, surely has a point here.

Thinking positively; having happy thoughts and smiling, really does make you feel better, look better and improve your overall health and well being.

Don’t get me wrong, things do get me down sometimes. The stresses of work, lack of sleep caused by 2 young children and a home to keep looking pretty, all take their toll on my smiley demeanor. It’s inevitable. But if I’m going to try my best to choose Happy, here are my top 6 ways to radiate sunbeams.

1. Get Outdoors

Without fail, being outside and breathing in that good old fashioned fresh air, can make you feel energised and more calm. Staring in awe at Mother Nature, is good for mind, body and soul. How can the wonder of our surroundings, not make you feel good?

I love the beach. The view; the smell; the smiles it creates, Summer or Winter, it’s a sure fire winner.

I love the forest. The sounds; the colours; the beauty of how it changes with the seasons.

I love watching a sunset. Simply beautiful.

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I take great comfort in the ideal that when I ask Harley what he would like to do, “… go outside somewhere” is always his staple answer. Being outdoors, is free, a definite smile maker, so go on, go and increase that vitamin D intake whilst feeling super happy and alive.

2. Fill the Diary

It goes without saying that an exciting time or event planned ahead, will help to boost mood and morale. It would be fantastic if we could all have holidays booked throughout the year to look forward to but in reality, the purse strings don’t stretch that far. But planning ahead doesn’t have to all be financially. It could be a day out that’s been planned for the next school holidays or something that’s happening next month or at the weekend. It could be as simple as thinking ‘tonight I’m putting the kids to bed early and enjoying a hot bubble bath and a glass of vino.’ That thought has most certainly made me smile through many a long day at work.

Reality isn’t an easy ride.

Life will always throw us challenges and hurdles to overcome. If it didn’t, I’d feel pretty put out and life would perhaps be a little dull.

I don’t want an easy ride. I want to be challenged. I like overcoming the hurdles. I like achieving.

But it’s in these moments of adversity, that a little ray of light is essential. To keep me sane. To make me smile. And a little forethought of what is ahead, is like a warm hug that gets me through.

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3. Care Bears

As much as it’s nice when someone buys or does something lovely for you, the look on someone’s face when you have done something for them, is worth so much more.

Again, it’s not the financial things for me.

The moments that surprise me most and make most of an impact are the simple things, the things that make me think I was in someone’s thoughts.

I remember when I had just given birth to Harley and returned home with him, a lovely friend arrived with a lasagna that she had baked for us so that I wouldn’t have to cook dinner. So simple yet unbelievably thoughtful and more than appreciated.

One of my best friends always texts me quotes and images about friendship. I’ve kept all of them. They more than make me smile.

We had a ‘Care Bear Week’ at work. We each had a colleague at school, who we had to do something lovely for, throughout the week. We didn’t know who our Care Bear was until the end of the week (and only if they revealed themselves!) Things ranged from a cup of tea waiting for you on your desk in the morning, a chocolate treat, our playground duty being covered, but sadly not an offer of marking our books, hmm, I wonder why?! Little notes left wishing us a good day, someone even had their lunch made for them!

It was such a lovely, lovely week. There were so many happy faces and so much positivity. Random acts of kindness certainly make you and others feel great.

Why not try a Care Bear Week at your work? I guarantee you will create and see so many smiles.

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4. Surround yourself with Happy

We all have the people who we visit, call, text, email or tweet when we need a chat, when we want a laugh or need to be reassured or guided.

It’s inevitable that there are people who you choose to surround yourself with if you want to feel happy and positive. And inevitably there are those that you choose not to!

We all have our happy people. The people who make us happy.

My kiddies make me beyond happy. Their innocence, their infectious laughter, their wonder of the world, encapsulates everything that makes me happy. Beyond measure.

My closest friends, family and husband make me feel safe. They reassure me. They support me. They are the people I go to if my Happy levels need a top up.

Choose your happy people. Choose wisely. ‘Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the Flu. When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.’

And what makes my 4 year old most happy? Can you guess?!

5. Find your Happy Place

It could be a place that you love to visit. A holiday spot that finds you returning every year, or a town that attracts you for a weekend. It could be a park bench, a nature reserve or a beauty spot. It might be a certain room at home or even a specific chair.

For me, it’s here:

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7 miles of our local, uninterrupted, golden sandy beach. ‘Beautiful’ doesn’t even cut it.

6. Have some Me Time

I recently wrote about the importance of Me Time. Mum Time. As hard as it is to put ourselves first sometimes and give ourselves a bit of credit, having time to do things we enjoy, just for ourselves, is crucial for our sanity, let alone our health and well being. Any one of these activities (perhaps apart from the running!) never fails to put a smile on my face and make me feel good.

1. Have a bubblebath – minus the child screaming “Muuummy!” through the keyhole.

2. Read a magazine – trashy or intellectual.

3. Retail therapy – either online or the traditional visit to the shops method.

4. Listen to music – I’m a secret One D fan when I’m on my own. Have you listened to Night Changes? Wow it’s beautiful.

5. Eat chocolate – either the brown, black or white variety, whatever delights your taste buds.

6. Go out with friends – right, who’s up for meeting at Costa?

7. Go for a run – um, that’s supposed to be enjoyable, right?

8. Paint your nails – this always makes me feel pretty.

9. Watch a film or your favourite Soaps – my sister and close friends will now be saying… yeah right, Ali, football or darts more like.

10. Browse Social Media – Yay!

So I’m off to have a hot bubble bath with a copy of Heat magazine, a bar of Dairy Milk, One D singing to me through the speakers and Twitter on my phone.

So those are my top tips for Choosing Happy.

Just the thought of smiling, is enough to trigger those happy chemicals in your brain. So if all else fails, just think about being happy and your subconscious will radiate those sunbeams.

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Mami 2 Five
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Alphabet Photography #G

G is for … Great Grandparents.

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I feel so incredibly lucky to still have both of my grandparents, living locally. More than that, my children have two wonderful great grandparents who dote on them and who really enjoy their company.

Harley loves looking at Great Grandad’s model trains and tanks. He struggles to understand that they are just that: models not toys!

Great Gran loves playing plastic skittles with them and jigsaws. The amount of chocolate biscuits the kids are offered when we are round makes Harley think he’s in biscuit heaven!

Love them both, dearly.

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Weekly Weigh In ~ wk 1

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Readers of a recent post of mine, The Start of a Long Haul will know that last week, I teamed up with Diet Chef to see if I could reach my weight goals. I had heard great things about Diet Chef and was so pleased when they offered to send me a monthly hamper of chef prepared meals, straight to my door.

So now that I have completed my first full week of Diet Chef, this is the first of my Weekly Weigh In posts.

I’ll be really honest – I didn’t have high hopes for how tasty the actual meals would be. In truth, I’m quite very fussy when it comes to food. I don’t like or eat microwave meals and the main dish on the lunchtime menu, is soup. I never eat soup. I think it’s the texture. Despite being able to select want I wanted from the wide range of meals, I did select a few soups, to add a bit of variety and to see if Diet Chef could actually change my opinion.

Each day, I have had breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner. I have also teamed the breakfasts with fresh fruit and the dinners with salad or veg.

Here is what I have eaten this week:

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I can honestly say that the food is delicious. I was very surprised yet delighted that I was still able to look forward to mealtimes. The dinners can be microwaved but as I mentioned earlier, I still tended to cook them in the oven for 25mins, especially as the oven was on with everybody else’s dinner cooking.

My favourites this week were the chicken tikka. It was very mild and so yummy, perfect for me. And the Apple and Cinnamon Porridge was simply delicious.

I must admit, I had to get my head around eating a yummy chocolate cookie as a hearty breakfast, I wasn’t sure that I could stomach it first thing in the morning, or that it was going to fill me up. But teamed with some delicious fresh fruit, I was fighting the kids off it!

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And if you’re wondering, I had 3 soups this week: Sweet Potato and Coconut, Tomato and Mushroom. And I finished, very nearly, the whole bowl, each time. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other flavours. My stepson, Ethan had a few slurps of the Tomato soup and said it was the best soup he had ever tasted; high praise indeed!

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lbs lost this week: 5.5

Total lbs lost: 5.5

Inches lost this week (taken over 4 measurements): 8

Total inches lost: 8

It’s was Half Term last week, I don’t know if this was an advantage or a hinderance for me starting Diet Chef. There were lots of temptations with the kids eating yummy things and going out on day trips made things tricky for lunch (but I actually made up a pasta pot and had it cold for lunch, which I love anyway.)

Back to work this week so I hope that having an earlier breakfast won’t hold me back at all.

I’m looking forward to it. Here’s to a great week.

Disclaimer: The meal plan I am on would cost £61.25 a week/ £245 a month. I am being sent a free monthly hamper from Diet Chef for the purpose of review however all words and opinions are very much my own.

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Mindful Monday ~ Wk 15

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I know some of you follow me on Twitter and Instagram and I have been really touched by all of the well wishes and prayers that you have been saying for my lovely gran, who has been very poorly in hospital this week.

She is the kindest, sweetest, most amazing lady you could ever meet. At 92, her smile still lights up any room.

We are hopeful that she will go home this week, my grandad is a pretty forceful man!

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I love you, Gran. xx

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Our Half Term week in pictures

If you’re anything like me, you will feel that the school holidays always fly by and you are already counting down to the next one.

Only a week ago, I had a very different feeling in my tummy: one of excitement for the week ahead; one of happiness to spend everyday, all day, together.

Regretfully, I sit here now with a different feeling in my tummy. Back to work, back to pre-school, back to the early morning rush, back to waving goodbye.

We had such a lovely week. Here’s our week in pictures:

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Top left: We caught the little Noddy train at Hengistbury Head down to the beach. Lola slept the whole journey but Harley loved being on the train and especially the ice cream at the end.

Top right: A lovely friend had a pancake party on Tuesday and I was reliably informed that “Anna’s pancakes are much better than yours mummy!” We went up onto her rooftop terrace to admire the gorgeous view of the sea (hence my Sunday Photo) and managed to get a lovely photo of us four.

Middle left: We had Luke’s boys for half the week and managed to get a photo of all of them. Quite a task!

Middle right: We love going swimming and we went to the Wet and Wild session at a local pool. So much fun.

Bottom left: We visited Farmer Palmers and bought an Annual Pass so we can go as much as we want now. It’s perfect for a day out or just for a couple of hours. They have a new indoor area and Lola adored going up and down the slides in the hay barn.

Bottom middle: We spent a rainy afternoon at The Treehouse. It’s like an indoor soft play but it’s wooden with artificial grass. The kids love it there.

Bottom right: A game of Twister but the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle version.

I hope you all had a lovely week too. Not wanting to wish time away, it’s only 6 weeks until the Easter hols!

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My Sunday Photo

I knew as soon as I had taken this, that it would be my Sunday Photo for this week.

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My friend lives in a gorgeous block of flats overlooking the beach. The view from the rooftop terrace is absolutely stunning, I think you’ll agree!

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Alphabet Photo #F

F is for … Friends.

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I adore this photo of Harley with his best friend, Harry. Taken only yesterday they always have so much fun when they are together.

Their laughter is infectious.

With only 4 months between them, they have always been close (they have no choice when their mums are good friends!)

Harry is a little whizz when it comes to numbers; he’s going to be a Maths genius when he’s older and Harley, well he wants to be a footballer! Luke and I joke that he’s our pension because he’s pretty nifty with his footwork already!

Harry’s mum and I always say that our lovely childminder must have her hands full with the 2 of them together, at the same time! I definitely couldn’t keep up with them running around me all day!

But in truth, I’m a little apprehensive about the future. In a few months, both Harley and Harry will be starting school.

Different schools.

This is a conscious decision that Luke and I made for various reasons. However, I’m safe in the knowledge that Harley is sociable and young enough to make new friends. He’s quite a shy boy but I sincerely hope that doesn’t go against him.

I don’t want him to lose his old friends.

I don’t want him to lose Harry.

The transition from Preschool to Reception is a milestone event. An exciting one. An emotional one… for parents. One that I hope will open up a world of opportunity for them both.

Even though they will be at different schools, I can’t wait to see them grow and develop as individuals; build new friendships; learn new skills; enjoy learning (hopefully) and all the while sharing their journey with each other.

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The start of a long haul

I love my children dearly. I wouldn’t change them for the world. But as much as I love them, I do not like the toll that 2 pregnancies have taken on my body.

I have never been ‘slim’. Even when I swam competitively and had to have body fat tests, I was never slim.

But I was a lot lighter on the scales before I had children. I know it’s inevitable that the lbs creep up and I look in envy at friends that shrank back to their pre birth weight in what seemed like a day after giving birth.

I have most definitely not ‘popped’ back into shape. And I most certainly have not shrunk back to the size I once was.

When I’m on a diet or the latest fad, I usually do pretty well as I have a good determination to succeed.

I just can’t sustain it.

It’s when I’m eating as normal, cooking and eating with the rest of the family, that my will power takes a hammering.

So I am beyond excited and thankful to team up with Diet Chef.

Carefully selected, calorie controlled meals, prepared by a chef and nutritionist and delivered to my door.

My next 28 days

My next 28 days

Diet Chef allows you to choose your menu for each day and there is a whole host of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks to choose from. 28 days worth of meals all delivered in one hamper. You can view the Menus here.

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A 4 week plan costs £61.25 a week/ £245 a month.

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Every Monday I will write up my Weekly Weigh In and share with you my progress; lbs lost, inches lost, hopefully!

I will be teaming this with taking up running. Crikey! From blogging to jogging, who would have thought, hey? I’ll give it a go! Lyn, you might get your new running partner after all!

I am hopeful that with the support of Diet Chef and the fact that I’m sharing my progress with you guys (a bit of peer pressure) I will achieve my goals or at least be well on the way to achieving them.

So here goes. Wish me luck and I will see you next week for an update and hopefully some positive news.

Disclaimer: I have kindly been sent a free monthly hamper from Diet Chef for the purpose of review, however all words and opinions are very much my own.

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Mindful Monday ~ Wk 14

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In honour of the start of Half Term … how true is this …

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Have a lovely week, everyone.

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The winner of the Best Baby Changing Room Awards is announced

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Back in September, you might remember me joining forces with Sudocrem Care and Protect in their mission to find the best Baby Changing Rooms that are on offer in our restaurants, shopping centres and supermarkets. Their quest to find the best facilities around, came as a more than welcome sight for me as I loathe traipsing around trying to find somewhere suitable to change my baby’s nappy or for somewhere comfortable to sit when I was breastfeeding. Unfortunately I had met more inadequate facilities than I had sufficient ones. So I was more than happy to support Sudocrem in their quest to find the best on offer.

I know lots of my lovely readers put forward nominations for their favourite baby change facilities and now the results are in…

Sainsbury’s was voted as having the best Baby Changing Rooms in Britain, with Sainsbury’s Wandsworth claiming the overall title. The branch won the award, presented by Katy Hill, for its clean and spacious facilities; offering a comfortable changing mat in a calm environment; disposable towels; spacious toilet and plenty of room to move around with a bulky pram.

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Ziggie Singh, Store Manager at Sainsbury’s Wandsworth, said: “We’re thrilled to have won baby changing room of the year voted by our customers. We have lots of parents and children visiting every day, so it’s great to hear we’ve been able to provide a comfortable and convenient shopping environment for families”.

Twinkle Toes, Soft Play Baby Cafe, in Norwich was voted best independent establishment.

A huge congratulations goes to both companies and a heartfelt thank you for valuing the importance and necessity for such a space. Let’s hope that other companies follow suit and improve what they have on offer for mums and dads and their little ones.

And a huge well done to Sudocrem for running the Sudocrem Care and Protect Baby Changing Room Awards.

A little tube of Sudocrem is always on Lola’s changing unit at home. It’s not surprising that they have been shortlisted in the Best Baby Skincare category in the Tommy Awards. If you too swear by the product, you can vote for Sudocrem by clicking here.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I received compensation for writing it. However all words and opinions are my own and I was not asked to mention Sudocrem in the Tommy Awards, this was simply because I love the product.

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My Sunday Photo

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Yesterday we went for a bike ride over the Heath. We follow the red brick road to discover such beautiful surroundings. It’s such a treat having this environment on our doorstep, hidden by trees. We weren’t prepared for the rainshower but the rainbow that followed and the bright blue sky, were quite something.

Riding his bike, is Harley’s most favourite thing in the world. His face beams the whole time. He’s so confident yet his confidence doesn’t frighten me anymore. I embrace it. Through the puddles, flying down hills, over bumps and jumps with his black jacket splattered up the back with mud. Always the sign of a good bike ride.

Lola now has a new bike so she can enjoy the outdoors too. I hope she enjoys it as much as her brother does.

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Parent Panel ~ Treworgey Cottages, Cornwall

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Ok, so if there’s one thing that winds my Mummy up more than my brother’s Lego bricks all over the floor, it’s my stacking bricks all over the floor. Mummy spends ages building me a magnificent tower and I have more fun knocking it over.

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What Mummy doesn’t realise is that each building block is a piece of our perfect family holiday. Each block makes up all the things that we would want in a holiday, to create happy memories of time together. I might only be 1, but I know the exact place; perfect for all of us; Treworgey Cottages in Cornwall.

Mummy and Daddy would love staying in any one of the beautifully restored country cottages. They all have their own private garden with views of the Looe River Valley. Despite being set in such idyllic countryside, Treworgey is only a few minutes drive from the beach.

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We all love the beach. Building sandcastles, being chased by the waves along the shore and finding shells.

Treworgey even has it’s own ‘indoor beach’ perfect for Volleyball, Badminton and sandcastle competitions.

There are so many child friendly features that Harley and I wouldn’t know what to do first.

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There is a heated outdoor pool and even a super paddling pool for me! Mummy and Daddy can even make use of the playpen so that I can’t get up too much mischief while they enjoy a bit of a swim.

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We would have lots of fun in the play areas and outdoor playground on the swings, climbing frames, sandpit and I would love to play in the Wendy House.

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We can even be mini-farmers, feeding the animals and collecting the eggs. I could even get to meet a real life pony as they offer horse riding. I’d love to see Daddy horse riding!

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And as if that wasn’t enough to keep everyone happy, there is a tennis court for me to show the world that I’m the next Kournikova.

Treworgey is set in 150 acres of land so there is plenty of room for us to run around and explore while Mummy breathes in all that fresh air… she’s always telling me to do that!

Being a blogger’s child, I know how pleased Mummy will be that there is free Wifi!

and I know Harley would be so excited to see the ice cream stall with it’s honesty donation box.

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Treworgey Cottages are a perfect ParentFriendlyStay.

So, as much as Mummy hates tripping over my building blocks, I think I’ve built the perfect family holiday.

Disclaimer: I’m so excited to be a member of the #parentpanel and this is our entry for Parent Friendly Stays  

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We are official members of H&A’s Bathtime Squad!

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I’m absolutely thrilled and delighted to say that we have been selected to be an official Bathtime Squad Member, 2015 for H&A .

Being chosen to be an Ambassador for a company is always such an honour. It means that we will be working very closely with H&A to bring you the latest in bathtime toys and hair care. We will be able to review products, test samples and get sneak previews into new products. We will even have the opportunity to take over social media channels.

It’s all very exciting.

Harley and Lola are delighted and can’t wait to share with you the fun they get up to.

Here’s to even more giggles at bathtime.

In the meantime, you can take a look at some of the brilliant H&A product range here and if you missed it, here is our latest review of H&A’s Alphabet Letters, The Diary of a Bathtime Buddy.

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My Sunday Photo

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Last night it was really noticeable how light it was after 5pm. About a week and a half ago, I remember saying on Twitter how it was nearly 5pm and that I hadn’t needed to pull the kitchen blinds to cook the dinner yet. But yesterday it was still relatively light at 5.30pm.

The anticipation of those lighter, warmer evenings excites me so much. Having more hours in a day is a real treat. Going for an early evening walk down the beach is something we really enjoy doing.

So for My Sunday Photo I wanted to share a photo that encapsulates Springtime to me, as we finally seem to be to be getting closer to that joyous season.

A walk through a Bluebell Wood.

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